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April 19, 2024

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The Dragons
Cheers To Me (Junk Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Playing punk rock heavy on the rock, with a slight pop edge, The Dragons are the next generation of rock 'n' roll. A four-piece, San Diego born band, these guys know how to whip up excitement. Their music is charged, energetic, and charming. You'll drink too it, have fun along with it, and embrace it all at the same time. Their second full-length is fifteen tracks of rock 'em, sock 'em punk that won't be forgotten.

Starting off with some heavy guitar riffs and metal-ish vocals, I began to get scared. Was this going to be a rock band that was trying to re-invent 80's Guns 'n' Roses with a new flair? Although the song had a modern feel to it, it seemed to reach back into those unmentionable times in music a bit too much. But when track two, "I Don't Mind," hit I about peed my pants. It was so energetic, lively, and powerful I couldn't imagine this was the same band. Hard hitting drums and a pounding bass helped line the song with a kick-in-the-pants rhythm section while the work of the dual guitars helped burn the song even farther into my mind. But there was still something missing! After allowing the music to take shape in its natural habitat (I cranked up the stereo), it was then I really understood the energy these guys were all about. "In Between and Far Away" starts off with the pounding of the snare and the climbing of the guitar, all the while the heartfelt ache of the vocals rip through the music and help set the emotions for the rest of the song (much like any good intro should do). From there the bass kicks in and the drums take off, creating a massive attack that will knock you on your feet if you're not prepared. Tight hooks mix in with the power of the song, helping to reduce the listener to a mere slave of the music. Rough and aggressive, the music also portrays a light enough side to keep your ears attentive and your mouths singing along. "Needs" is the same way, however this time they turn up the heat yet one more notch. With punk pumping through their veins, they charge through this number with ease, yet whip up so much chaos and sweat that you can't even control yourself when you decide to get up and start bouncing off everyone around you. The guitar work shines throughout the music, spotlighting some smoky riffs that are sure to steam up your bedroom windows, glasses, or windshield depending on where you are listening to the disc. Moving along, "Saturday Nite Ups 'N' Downs" just shows the disc keeps getting better and better with time. True to the essence of rock 'n' roll, The Dragons always keep the music super-charged and full of fun. Even when they lyrics reflect serious emotions, they use the music as a way to release all their frustrations, cut loose, and just have some fun. It is this type of attitude that is apparent through their disc, and it rubs off on the listener in every way possible. "Campus Avenue" starts out slow, almost as if they're going to take some time and relax, but as the song progresses they thicken everything up and begin to heat up the air. The song, however, does maintain a slower-than-normal feeling. A reflection of the emotions we all have, even the Dragons need to calm down a bit after all the noise-candy they've treated you too. But don't expect them to lighten up for too long, because if you do, you'll be in for a bumpy ride. Ending with "Back Where We Started," the title is a fitting one. Just as they started out with rock 'n' roll deep in their hearts, they close out with it as well. But unlike the intro, this number is actually appealing.

A great crossover band, The Dragons have punk on their minds and rock 'n' roll in their hearts. Yet when the two tangle, the outcome is a combined soul that represents as much of one genre as it does the other. True to both rock 'n' roll and punk's origins, they re-invent the meaning of both for the 90's. I'll give this disc an A-.

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